There was only one Johnny Carson. This is from March 13, 2013.
Not long ago, I came in from Wednesday night Bible study, stopping by Subway on the way home; foot-long meatball marinara if you're interested. I turned on the television and caught five minutes of a PBS documentary about another Nebraskan, Norfolk's own Johnny Carson. But the short segment I saw was really in the words of some very famous comedians, comics like Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Jerry Seinfeld. Each told about their first appearance on The Tonight Show and how Johnny liking them changed their careers which means it changed their lives. Drew Carey told about his first time and he was so emotional, he was choking up. He told how at the end of his routine, Johnny was dying laughing and waved him over to join him, something Drew said just didn't happen. They interspersed the interview with clips from that night and you could tell Drew was shocked when summoned. I'll admit I've never been a huge Drew Carey fan but it was hard not to be touched with the emotion he displayed explaining how meeting the legendary Carson redirected the path he would walk.
Like I said, I only watched for five minutes but I saw what mattered, at least to me. (It's one of those fundraising nights so the PBS folks did quite a bit of talking to each other, spliced in with the actual footage of Carson.) It made me think how meeting Jesus changed the course of so many lives two thousand years ago, either through healing or hearing or following or all of the above. The comedians spoke of how Johnny's approval of them changed everything and you know that was true with the Savior. He reached out to those 'tax collectors and sinners' who were despised by the Pharisees. I asked one of my classes last week if their churches would be real excited if a bunch of drug dealers or gang members or prostitutes showed up for services. The consensus was that the reaction would be more along the lines of, 'What are they doing here?' rather than, 'We're glad you're here!' Not much different than the Pharisees, actually. I'm pretty sure Jesus won't bump into any strangers tomorrow but we will. Could we have the same impact as Johnny Carson? Could we change lives by a single meeting? Could others be emotional when they look back over their lives and remember the fateful day they met us? There's only one way to find out.